There can be no denying that the PA’s attainment of UN non-member observer status for a Palestinian micro-state is a public relations victory which successfully capitalized on the Palestinian resistance’s recent military victory . Moreover, Israeli and US officials’ hysterical responses, particularly Livni’s depiction of this victory as a “strategic terrorist attack”, also makes it something of a political defeat and a source of humiliation for the Zionist entity.
Having said that, the move has created cognitive dissonance for many supporters of Palestine who fear it could be used as a strategic weapon against longer term aspirations for full statehood (whether pre-‘67 borders or pre-‘47 borders). Joseph Massad has written the most comprehensive and persuasive critique of the statehood bid arguing over a year ago that “Whether the UN grants the PA status as a state or refuses to do so, either outcome will be in Israel’s interest.”
More confusing still, is how divided Israeli media has been over the danger this development represents, with some belittling the significance of the statehood bid’s success and others decrying it. Most illuminating is the op/ed below written by Sever Plocker for the November 30 edition of Yedioth Ahronoth, entitled “THE VOTE IS ALSO GOOD FOR US”. The implications of this piece are more disturbing still when one recalls Khaled Mishaal’s recent [and considering Hamas’ military success, completely uneccesary] concession to Christian Amanpour on CNN ” I accept a Palestinian state according to 1967 borders with Jerusalem as the capital, with the right to return.” Mishaal also implied in the interview that he would be willing to recognize Israel once this Palestinian mini-state [22% of historic Palestine] was established: “I want my state. After this state is established, it — besides its standing toward Israel, don’t ask me when I’m in prison and under pressure, under Israeli pressure. You cannot ask me, as a victim, what is my stand toward Israel. I have mentioned my stand when there is a Palestinian state…”
Excerpts from the Yedioth Ahronoth piece:
“The nations of the world did just vote in favor of the Palestinians last night. They also voted in favor of Israel. In favor of a sovereign, independent Israel, separate from Palestine, separate from the Palestinians. By giving recognition to the Palestinian state, the UN gave, for the second time since the end of World War II, its repeated recognition of the Jewish state.
The PA delegation formulated its request in diplomatic language that left no room for doubt: the Palestinian people request to establish for itself a state in West Bank and the Gaza Strip based on the 1967 borders that will live in peace alongside Israel. The sensitive issue of Jerusalem was not mentioned in the operative section of the request and remains open to negotiations between the sides. The same for the issue of the final borders and the settlements.
The resolution passed by the UN is not anti-Israel. It is only seen as such by Israelis who are opposed to the idea of two states. In practice, this could serve as the jumping-off point for pulling the peace process out of the mud. True, unilateral steps are never the best solution, but the recognition that the world conferred last night on the Palestinian state does not constitute a major injury to Israel’s vital interests. We can live with it and even derive benefit from it. The benefit—including to Israel —is in setting a new opening point for negotiations: between two nation-states and not between an occupying nation and a national entity living under occupation. The gaps have been reduced in a non-violent way. That, in and of itself, is positive.
In the last few years, the Israeli government in general, and the foreign minister in particular, waged an intimidation campaign against the idea of UN recognition of the Palestinian state. We scared ourselves good, at least up until last week, when official spokespersons began to mightily spin the propaganda wheel backwards in a desperate attempt to explain that the devil wasn’t all that bad. And indeed it isn’t: the only concrete danger that the intimidators can mention is the hypothetical appeal of the PA to the International Criminal Court in The Hague.”
The author neglected to mention that the ICC issue is no longer even hypothetical considering that the Palestinian Authority has given assurances, that in exchange for recognition of a tiny sliver of Palestine, it will not hold Israel accountable for its war crimes by means of legal instruments like the ICC. As the Guardian reports:
“Palestinian officials said Britain and the US had pressed Abbas to sign a confidential side letter, which would not be presented to the UN general assembly, committing the Palestinian Authority not to accede to the ICC.”
In the final analysis, the non-member observer status does not appear to be much of a game changer and may even be detrimental to the longer-term objective of a one state solution in ALL of historic Palestine if the fate of Palestine remains in the hands of Mahmoud Abbas and Khaled Meshaal. The only real guarantee of Palestine’s liberation is a unified resistance movement that does not abandon its raison d’étre or principles. In other words, what is required for real Palestinian statehood is Islamic Jihad’s expansion both in size and military power, and for a break to occur within Hamas’s ranks, specifically between the external Doha-based leadership and the Gaza leadership, or for Hamas’ military wing, al-Qassam, to split from its political wing. As the example of Hizbullah demonstrates, a resistance movement that is effective and capable of scoring strategic victories and retrieving land needs to be a military movement with a political wing and not the reverse.